The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations

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Given my outgoing personality, my obsession with the latest news and the fact that I’ve always been an early adopter of new communications tools, it’s no surprise that I’ve been enamored with social media from the get-go.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to launch my own blog in early 2004, where I’ve written nearly 100,000 words on almost anything and everything that has to do with marketing. I became a member of Facebook in late 2007. I joined Twitter on May 8, 2008. I’ve bookmarked over 4,800 blog posts and articles on Delicious. I use Google Reader on a regular basis. And I have my own YouTube channel, which I use to share my thoughts on what’s important to me – and, hopefully, others – in the industry in which I earn my livelihood.

But out of all the social media outposts where I’ve established a presence, the one that probably gets the most attention among traditional business folks is LinkedIn, which I joined on July 26, 2004, almost seven years ago. In fact, I’m proud to say I was among the first one million members – number 882,759, to be exact – of this professional networking site that recently eclipsed the 100 million-member mark.

On LinkedIn, I’m fortunate to have connected with over 800 others, people who, like me, are more than happy to help one another make the most of their professional lives. And that includes writing recommendations for those among your network who deserve to be singled out for their expertise and experience.

So far, I’ve written recommendations for 59 people in my LinkedIn network, each of whom I’ve worked with in some capacity during the course of my career. I’m grateful for the 44 recommendations that others have written for me.

LinkedIn recommendations should be short and to the point, speaking to the strengths and skills you’ve seen up close and personal in the recipients of your high praise. When you write one, try to be as specific as possible, providing your own unique perspective on why someone else should be interested in hiring or doing business in some capacity with this individual. If he or she is a star, say so, enthusiastically and effusively. Cite his or her attributes and actual accomplishments. Use colorful adjectives and descriptive prose. You want to sound like you mean every single one of your kind words, not like you wrote them just because you were asked.

In fact, not every one of your LinkedIn recommendations needs to be solicited. Write one or two every once in a while for those who especially stand out. They’ll not only thank you for it, the likelihood is they’ll reciprocate and write a recommendation for you in return. That’s certainly good form.

And, yes, while it may be a little awkward, don’t worry about declining someone’s request to write a recommendation if for any reason you think it’s unwarranted. That’s business.

The bottom line is that whether you’re providing them for others or receiving them yourself, LinkedIn recommendations are extremely important. They’re a big part of your social currency that should reflect well on you as a corporate citizen and go a long way toward enhancing your online reputation.

To read all 59 of the LinkedIn recommendations I’ve written so far, please check out my LinkedIn profile by clicking here.
 
And…what about you? How many LinkedIn recommendations have you written and received? If you have anything to add to this post, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.
 
Finally, if you’d like to get some additional thoughts about LinkedIn recommendations, here are a variety of posts written by other folks about this same topic…
 
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10 Responses to The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations

  1. Matthew Levy says:

    Bob, I enjoyed your article about LinkedIn – well done. I also appreciate the list of articles – very helpful for those wanting to research the topic further. I will definitely send this to Evernote for future retrieval. Matt

  2. Cathy Miller says:

    Thanks for the link credit, Bob. LinkedIn has long been one of my preferred social media sites. Perhaps it is because of my 30+ years in Corporate before I ventured into freelancing. It does have that professional feel for me and has been an excellent source of referrals for me.

    I love your recommendations, They pack a lot of information into few words, which make them more likely to be read and appreciated. I also like your suggestion to write a recommendation without being prompted. It is always well received.

    Thanks again for the link and continued success!

  3. Bob,

    I wonder if having many recommendations results in their value being diminished? If everyone knows that you have solicited recommendations, and that 100% of them are favorable, does this present an accurate picture of you?

    And, with this knowledge in hand, will people automatically reject all recommendations and look for another metric on which to form an opinion?

    Drawing an analogy, today many of the youth groups award trophies and recognition awards to every team member. Are the all equal? How do you tell who the really good ones are compared to those that just show up?

  4. Dianna Huff says:

    Bob,

    You were the one who got me to do a blog, which I started in May 2006. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done for my business.

    Thanks for the article link, too!

  5. Bob Cargill says:

    Thank you, Dianna, Robert, Cathy and Matt. I appreciate your comments.

    Robert, I wanted to answer your questions…I look at a LinkedIn recommendation as an opportunity to highlight someone’s strengths, accomplishments and positive attributes. If I didn’t have anything favorable to say about the individual, or if I didn’t feel I knew him or her well enough, I wouldn’t write the recommendation. I would have to decline the request.

    To me, reading over someone’s recommendations, especially if he or she has many of them, can be very insightful. The more recommendations someone has on their LinkedIn profile, the more likelihood there will be a pattern to them, a common theme that makes it possible to draw conclusions about that individual.

    And speaking to your analogy, I think recommendations on LinkedIn could — and should — be looked at as a way of distinguishing one professional from another. That’s their purpose, really…to give those who are looking at talent a good, qualitative “metric” besides the standard profile information on which to judge.

  6. Bob,

    Is it really a metric if all the recommendations are solicited and uniformly positive? No-one is perfect, and repetitively reading about how good someone is seems to me to have a dilutive effect.

    Here is another view of the a different social media metric; followers on twitter. Since she suggests many of the “followers” are purchased, it brings into question the validity of the metric. http://thecynicalgirl.com/the-great-twitter-followers-scam/

    Your thoughts?

    Bob

  7. Bob Cargill says:

    Well, Robert, I think any qualitative metric is subject to some degree of interpretation. And like any recommendation, on LinkedIn or not, how serious such praise is taken depends on a variety of factors.

    But recommendations are, by definition, “positive.” And the nature of LinkedIn is that users will often request such recommendations, similar to how one would ask for a recommendation from a colleague in the offline world.

    Of course, no one is perfect. But the purpose of a LinkedIn recommendation is to highlight an individual’s strengths, not to be critical of him or her.

    And while followers on Twitter is a very important metric in social media, that’s not what we’re talking about here.

    However, since you’ve asked for my thoughts…I will say that anyone who would try to purchase followers would be trying to game the system. And in my mind, that would be cheating.

    Building a base of followers on Twitter — or on any other social media property for that matter — is very hard work. Online trust, reputation and support is earned over a long period of time based on one’s talent, knowledge, expertise and contributions to his or her industry.

    If you’d like to continue this conversation, please feel free to get in touch with me by phone or email — anytime.

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  9. Bob, thanks for including a link to my post on LinkedIn recommendations. (Sorry it took a few months to notice!) BTW, if you’re interested I just posted some insight on LinkedIn I gleaned from a recent presentation by LinkedIn….

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